Comcast Vs. Cellular

by Colin Berkshire

I keep hearing about cord cutters who are using mobile internet in preference to broadband. And, I keep saying: really?

I don’t like Comcast any more than most people, but they have genuinely increased internet speeds over the last few years. At the same rate I was paying three years ago I have gone from a problematic 20 megabits per second to 100 megabits at peak hours and 120 megabits in early morning. That’s pretty impressive gains.

In this same period of time, Verizon has gone from 45 megabits down to half a megabit. Sometimes Verizon is faster, but most of my experience in the past year has been that watching a YouTube video at lunchtime is out of the question.

Comcast is sticking to their core business and they are genuinely investing in their network.

Verizon and AT&T (and I hear T-Mobile) have all sold off the majority of their towers. Verizon used the $5 billion that it got from selling all of its towers toward the purchase AOL (WTF?). The most exciting thing I know of over at AOL is their digital prophet, Shingy.

AT&T squandered their money slightly better by buying Direct-TV because, well, we all know that the future of communications is one-way non-interactive satellite TV (Satellite TV has declining subscribers, so it is a perfect marketing fit for AT&T!)

So it’s fine to hate Comcast. I sure dislike their marketing tactics and opaque pricing. But in a year or two you will have gigabit to your home with Docsis 3.1 while Verizon further refines the art of dropping phone calls (their CDMA network almost never dropped calls, and their new Advanced 1.0 LTE network does it regularly).

If I were president of a cellular company I would be wildly increasing bandwidth and work to cover every corner of the country. In areas where it wasn’t cost effective to put in a tower I would open up an entrepreneurial program where small investors could install and maintain a tower and earn revenue on it. Perhaps I would offer a $10 a month option to use the extended/entrepreneurial BroadReach network and kick this back to those tower operators. I would also offer a $10 roaming arrangement where we would roam your data into a competitors towers. But then, I happen to think that the quality of service matters.

I genuinely think that Verizon and AT&T management is “out to lunch” and not minding the core business. I would love to meet the president of either company just to see what they were like and which end of their torso their head really was located.